Authorizers are entities granted jurisdiction by a legislature to approve, oversee, and renew charter schools. These are typically public agencies, such as local school districts/municipalities and state departments of education. In some states, the legislature grants universities, independent charter boards, and non-profit organizations authorizing ability. In order to remain open and have their charter renewed, charter schools must demonstrate success. Authorizers must therefore hold charter schools to the same (or higher) accountability standards as district-run schools. The role of the authorizer is important. Authorizers decide whether a charter school will open and the standards it must meet to remain open. While the National Alliance’s model law recommends a state have multiple authorizers, to date 14 states have only one. Though there are almost 1,000 different authorizers across the country, 40 of the top authorizers account for 56% of all charter enrollment.

Authorizer Type by Count of Authorizers, Enrollment Share, and School and Campus Share, 2018-19

Authorzier Type Count of Authorizers Enrollment Share School and Campus Share
HEI 44 10.4% 9.9%
ICB 18 14.9% 15.1%
LEA 863 49.0% 48.4%
MUN 2 0.6% 0.6%
NFP 15 2.7% 4.7%
SEA 21 22.1% 21.3%

Higher Education Institution (HEI), Independent Chartering Board (ICB), Local Education Agency (LEA), Non-Educational Government Entity (NEG), Nonprofit Organization (NPO), State Education Agency (SEA)

Top 10 HEI Authorizers

Top 10 ICB Authorizers

Top 10 LEA Authorizers

Top 10 SEA Authorizers

Notes: Based on author's calculations using data from NACSA for the 2018-19 school year. Municipal and nonprofit authorizers were excluded from this analysis because of size.


About the Authors

Jamison White
Jamison White

Sr. Manager, Data & Research

Before joining the National Alliance in 2017, Jamison worked as a financial and small-business consultant in Pittsburgh, Boston, and the greater New York area. Jamison studied at Carnegie Mellon University and Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany. He is a part of a founding group for a classical charter school in Washington, DC. In his free time, Jamison researches school curricula, pedagogies, and charter school models.

Jessica Snydman
Jessica Snydman

Data and Research Specialist

Prior to joining NAPCS, Jessica held internships with Girl Scouts of the U.S.A’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office and Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2). She also worked for the legal firm Krooth & Altman, LLP in D.C., assisting with numerous HUD multifamily affordable housing deals. Jessica is a Baltimore native and a passionate advocate for students with Learning Disabilities and ADHD, having centered the bulk of her academic and professional efforts on supporting the needs of neurodiverse learners. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Dickinson College, and her master’s degree in Education Policy Studies from The George Washington University.